Ranking The Top 15 Biggest Wastes Of Talent In NFL History

The dream of becoming a professional athlete seems almost heroic when we are children. For most, we just don’t what it takes, whether it be we aren’t fast enough, not big enough, or not strong enough. For a tiny percentage of us, the dream does work out, but the hard work doesn’t end there.

We’ve seen numerous prospective NFL stars over the year flourish in college and even somewhat in the NFL, but for whatever reasons, let all that talent go to waste, to the dismay of all us normals, normals without the golden opportunity which these athletes have had.

Here’s our list of  top ten biggest wastes of talent in NFL history.



15. Adam “Pacman” Jones

Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) versus the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Jones, better known as “Pacman” Jones, was a highly touted cornerback coming out of West Virginia. With his quick bursts of speed and agility, he was reveled at by NFL scouts. After being taken 6th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft (extremely high for a cornerback) by the Tennessee Titans, his fall from grace began almost immediately as contract disputes and numerous off field incidents led to animosity between the Titans and himself. A slew of arrests got Pacman suspended for the entire 2007 season and a portion of the 2008 season by the league. After getting his life back in relative order, he’s developed into a solid player for the Super Bowl contending Bengals, with an attitude that actually fits well into the mold of that gritty, hard hitting defense.

14. Randy Moss

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20: Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots catches a pass during warm ups against the Cincinnati Bengals during their preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Randy Moss

Now many may be shocked to see Randy Moss on this list, considering he’s arguably the second greatest receiver of all-time. But the reason why Moss isn’t area of Jerry Rice in many’e eyes, is because of pure laziness. If there;s a comparable player to the athletic freak of nature of a LeBron James of the NBA, Randy Moss is that to the NFL. With a 6’4”, 210-pound frame, Moss had unmatched athleticism, as he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.25 seconds and had a 39 inch vertical. His downfall was his attitude and work ethic. Major character blips through his college career at Marshall led to him dropping all the way to the 21st pick in the 1998 draft, a spot that in hindsight, is unfathomable that he fell that fall. Unfortunately, these work ethic concerns followed him throughout his career and left fans wondering what he could’ve possibly done had he not been so lazy, for example taking plays and practices off. And yet with that, he’s still of the best to ever do it. “Straight cash homie.”

13. Terrell Owens


Another eventual Hall-of-Famer and one of the best to ever do it on this list. While T.O.’s stats have the mark of a Hall of Famer, his attitude and ability to completely destroy locker rooms were enough to keep him off HoF voters’ ballots, for atlas the first year.

Owens was another freak of nature athlete, yet had a freak of nature ego to go along with it. The “diva” wide receiver was epitomized by Owens, even in the heyday of Chad Ochocinco. Owens managed to get himself practically thrown out of every franchise he played for. In a 2003 interview with Playboy Magazine, Owens stirred up the pot big-time after insinuating that his former quarterback, Jeff Garcia, was gay. Owens went off to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he would eventually get in highly-publicized spats with his quarterback Donovan McNabb.

After his theatrics in Philadelphia, Owens managed to somewhat calm himself down and had three very successful years with Dallas. He was not able to shake off his persona, however, and was released from the team, subsequently playing in Buffalo and Cincinnati for one year apiece. Physically, Owens had it all. He had all the tools to be the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, but his inability to be a leader and a good teammate ultimately relegates him under Jerry Rice’s shadow. What a shame.

12. Ricky Williams


If you ever needed to know how highly Ricky Williams was thought of talet-wise, just ask Mike Ditka. Ditka, head coach of the New Orleans Saints at the time of the trade, gave up an unheard of full slew of draft picks, yes that’s right, every draft pick he has in 1999 to trade up to the pick #5 to get Ricky.

Hailing from Texas with a Heisman trophy in hand, Williams racked up an incredible 4,017 yards and 52 rushing touchdowns in just his last two years in college.

But unfortunately for the fans of Williams and simply great players, Ricky loved marijuana more than he did football. Over the course of his career he failed 3 drug tests, also abruptly deciding to retire from the Miami Dolphins in 2004, catching everybody of guard. Though he did return a year later, a year from football seemed to zap the explosiveness and relentless running from Ricky.

Even with the time spent suspended and retired, he’s still in the 10,000 yard club, adding in 66 touchdowns. Williams had the potential to one of the all time greats to carry a football, but didn’t have the mentality that football was his life, and for someone who understood that himself, it was impossible to change his mind.

11. Michael Vick

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Michael Vick seemed to have changed the QB position forever when he came into the league. Problem was, there was not another Micheal Vick, nor will there be another in history. A unprecedented mix of throwing ability and arm strength to throw the deep ball and zip it through defenders short and the running ability and escpeability of a running back, Vick was a human video game. Then, what will forever define Michael Vick happened in April of 2007.

Smack dab in the peak of Vick’s prime, it was revealed that the QB was involved in organizing illegal dog fighting rings on his property. He had funded the events and been personally involved in the fighting itself. He spent nearly two years in prison and, suprisingly was given another chance in the NFL after he served his time and preformed his civil duties. The Philadelphia Eagles were heavily criticized for signing Vick, though that criticism switched to criticsm of his quarterback play, only having one Pro Bowl season following his time away from the game and getting the Eagles no closer to a Super Bowl.

Michael Vick left fans no matter what age in awe of his football ability, and even those who hate Vick to this day know what could have been if he never got involved in the dog fighting business, possibly being one of the greatest offensive threats in NFL history.

10. Vince Young


Vince Young has the title of quarterbacking the greatest game in college football history, and quarterbacking the Longhorns to a win in that game, capturing the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, that’s the most important thing he’s remembered for.

Young was drafted 3rd overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 NFL draft. Despite finding his groove as an NFL QB, reaching two Pro Bowls in the front end of his career, which most forget, he never quite lived up to the stardom of the player he was in college.

Young revealed in an interview that he considered quitting football as the passion was all but gone. He didn’t quit at that point, but eventually couldn’t find a team that wanted his services. What could have been.

9. Josh Gordon

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon makes a catch for a first down against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/David Richard)

The photo above may come as a surprise to some, considering there hasn’t been many of him playing throughout the course of his career.

Now one may ask, “What’s the difference between Josh Gordon and Ricky Williams?” Well, Josh Gordon seems to not understand that marijuana is keeping him from living his dream and reveling in fame, while Ricky seemed to understand that, and simply be complacent with it.


Ricky Williams didn’t want to play football anymore when he called it quits, while Gordon clearly does considering his filed for early reinstatement after being suspended for the entire  2015-2016 season. The Browns WR failed yet another test, positive for marijuana which of course led to Roger Goodell denying that reinstatement and possibly more punishment on the horizon.

On a perennial embarrassment of a team in the Browns, Gordon was one of the only bright spots for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, finishing the season 3rd in receiving basically playing without a QB. Though he is young enough to make a return down the road, it’s likely Gordon missed out on his year and possibly years of prime effectiveness.

8. Rae Carruth

F361998 01: FILE PHOTO: National Football League wide receiver Rae Carruth, who is facing murder charges in the drive-by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend, was arrested on Wednesday when found hiding in the trunk of a car in a hotel parking lot in Tennessee, a police spokesman said. Carruth of the Carolina Panthers is seen in this November 9, 1997 photo during a game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Allsport/Liaison Agency)

Rae Carruth was Aaron Hernandez before it was cool. Coming out of the University of Colorado, Carruth looked to be a promising first round draft pick after being taken in the 1997 draft by the Carolina Panthers.

Carruth has a solid rookie season, catching 44 passes for 545 yards with four touchdowns, but those touchdowns would be the last he ever had. He missed much of his sophomore season with a broken foot and played in only six games in his third year before the moment his career and life and he knew it would end.

The WR murdered his girlfriend, who was eight-months pregnant with his child. Fortunately, the child survived but suffered permanent brain damage after going 70 minutes inept of oxygen. Carruth attempted to evade police but was eventually taken into custody. He is now appropriately serving a life sentence for his despicable crime.

7. Maurice Clarett


Maurice Clarett was one of  Ohio State’s finest. Talk about making an impact straight out of highshcool, Clarett had one of the best freshman seasons in NCAA history, rushing for 1300+ yards, and punching in 18 TDs, topping those states off with an undefeated season and National Championship for the Buckeyes. It seemed to all go downhill from there though. Numerous issues from staff disagreements, to questionable work ethic, to arrests affected his life on and off the field, catalyzing on of the biggest falls from stardom in football history, so much so ESPN produced a 30 for 30 on his downfall.

The photo above is that or Clarett at practice, that being the RB never played a single snap in the NFL, and we will never know what could have been if he stayed on the figurative right track with his Hall-of-Fame back potential.

6. Art Schlichter


Art Schlichter, like all the quarterbacks on this list, was considered to be an outstanding prospect coming out of college. In the 1982 NFL draft, he was taken number 4 overall by the then Baltimore Colts.
The two-time Heisman finalist warranted high expectations after performing at such a high level over more than one season at Ohio State, but a gambling addiction squandered his NFL career before it ever started.
Schlichter found himself out of the NFL in just three short years, a team where his bank account was in the negative due to the uncontrollable gambling debt he racked up. That ended up being just one of many problems that ended any chance of a career as an NFL player for Schlichter. He committed dozens of felonies which  included fraud, forgery and theft, spending jail time during most of the 1990’s up to 2000. To pile on top, a major judgment came down on Schlicher in 2012 – an 11-year sentence for repeatedly scamming participants in a million-dollar sports ticket scheme.

5. Albert Haynesworth
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Albert Haynesworth was widely considered the best defensive tackle in the league over the course of multiple seasons, and rightfully so. After a standout 2008 season, Haynesworth signed a massive 7 year, $100 million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins, in hindsight one of the biggest throw-aways of money in any team’s history.
That 100 million Haynesworth bought the Redskins only two years of awful, lazy, sometimes dirty and uninspired pay from Haynesworth. The DT was beyond out of shape, basically eating his career away with no intention of changing it nor working hard on the field despite it. If those issues were;t enough, Haynesworth didn’t get along with the Redskins as a franchise and their staff, leading to his release following the 2010 season, leaving the Skins with nothing.

4. Ryan Leaf
If you look up ‘bust’ in the dictionary, Ryan Leas name is right under it. After a standout college career at Washington State that led to a runner-up in Heisman voting his junior year (3,968 passing yards and 34 TDs), Leaf declared for the 1998 NFL draft. Taken with the #2 pick, Leaf was a prospect many felt could be as good, if not better than Tennessee QB Peyton Manning. Needless to say, luckily the Colts went with Manning over this guy.
The Chargers weren’t so lucky. They were the team to take Leaf at #2, with that pick turning out to be a short-lived NFL career flooded with of terrible play and terrible judgement on and off the field. Leaf left the league, eventually facing numerous illegal substance and senseless arrests which included burglary in his post-football life.
The separation of the careers of Peyton Manning and the guy taken right after him may be the biggest gap ever.

3. JaMarcus Russell
If you look up the word ‘bust’ in the dictionary, JaMarcus Russell’s name is right under Ryan Leafs’.
Touted as maybe the best QB prospect coming out of college since Peyton Manning, Russell was a literal beast behind center. Standing at 6’6”, 260lbs., Russell had the ability to shed tacklers with size and speed, and throw the ball 70 yards.
He was selected first overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL draft, a pick the Raiders will regret forever and a pick that would handcuff the franchise for another chunk of years.
Russell finished 7-18 as a starter with a 65.2 quarterback rating (QBR), leaving the league from a combination of bad play and work ethic, weight issues, and poor attitude.
There may have not been another QB in the same decade that Russell was drafted with the physical ability of Russell, a man that could throw further than other quarterbacks from his knees. But that ability gets you nowhere without the work ethic to apply it to being an NFL quarterback.

2. Aaron Hernandez
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Aaron Hernandez was one of the best at his tight end position in college at the University of Florida, but slipped in the draft to the 4th round of the draft after admitting to failing numerous drug tests and other behavior issues, which were just a microcosm of what was to come.
Hernandez was a impact player for the New England Patriots, sharing services with Rob Gronkowski. In 2013 that all was an afterthought after seemingly out of the blue, Aaron Hernandez was arrested as he under investigation for the murder of his acquaintance Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was also indicted on two more murder charges in 2014. Hernandez is currently in prison waiting trial, with a face who’s associated with scum and murder instead of talent and fame like it once was.
You can only imagine the unstoppable treat that Hernandez and Gronk would be today, and if that wasn’t the case, the contract he would have gotten elsewhere.

1. Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel was a video game in college. He was the Steph Curry of college football, making the best defenses look silly, racking up points like they were nothing. Manziel wasn’t all flare though. The Texas A&M QB proved he has pocket presence, proper mechanics, and the ability to make reads, topping that off with an impressive pro day, voluntarily closing to throw with his pads and helmet on, a rarity these days.
Manziel was taken after dropping in the draft by the Cleveland Browns of all teams, playing a handful of preseason and regular season games in his first two seasons, showing some promise in most of his starts. The Browns were a perfect situation for Manziel, with low expectations for a QB. All he had to do was be average and exciting at the same time to be a starter in Cleveland.
The reason why he’s #1 on the list? Manuel’s actions that have taken him from one of the most exciting players in college football history to a guy who’s name is associated with not just bust like a Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf, but idiot. The reasons that kept Manziel from being NFL quarterback are simply just dumbfounding, from alcohol addiction, to over-partying, showing up to practice still intoxicated, to jetting out to Las Vegas in disguise to party the day before a game, and allegedly hitting his girlfriend, just to name a few.
Seemingly content with living off daddy’s money and the likeness of his once stardom for the rest of his life, the Johnny Manziel is one of those situations that are looked down upon by fans, as he some would kill for the opportunity that he was so eager to throw right down the drain.
Johnny Football wasted his talent before he even had a shot to showcase it…and for that reason he’s #1.